Sep 11

What Stress Does to the Brain

Almost everyone has experienced stress at some point in their lives. Stress is common; it is an integral part of our lives. Our lives are almost incomplete without stress.

Now, for the essential question: why should we worry about it? Stress, in excess, can be detrimental to our health. If you are too stressed, working on your stress management can be beneficial. Below are some pointers that will help you understand how stress affects our brain. Understanding stress’ role on the brain is critical before starting to work on your stress management.

Stress Can Change your Brain Structure

It may sound strange, but stress can significantly affect the structure of your brain. So, is it something you should worry about?

Yes, definitely. Make a note: stress can shrink your prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling impulses, decision making, and your working memory. 

Brain Inflammation

Believe it or not, the brain also feels inflammation. But wait, isn’t inflammation something that happens to the body, not the right? Not exactly. We bet most of you reading this didn’t know: the brain has its very own immune system. 

We have something called microglia in our brains. These are a type of special immune cells that protect our brain and spinal cord from toxins and infections. More surprisingly,  once microglial cells have been activated, there is no way they can be turned off. This chronic stress is what makes inflammation  worse. 

Stress Kills Brain Cells

The body produces a hormone called cortisol. In excess, cortisol leads to excessive Glutamate. Glutamate is a very important chemical present in the brain, but in excess, it becomes a neurotoxin.

Excessive glutamate produces free radicals. Put simply, they are unattached oxygen molecules that start attacking brain cells. This is similar to the way oxygen attacks metal and causes rust.

Apart from glutamate, many outside factors also can lead too many free radicals. Many unhealthy habits can be responsible for this. For example, consuming too much alcohol, eating junk food, going to bed too late, smoking cigarettes, and other negative habits can all cause too many free radicals.


If you are noting that you are forgetting things more and more often, then it may be the biggest sign that your stress level has started to affect your brain.

According to recent studies, when a person is under stress, they are more likely to forget general things such as forgetting or misplacing your keys, missed appointments, etc. This happens because stress directly affects the part of the brain where factual memories are stored.

We hope you loved our article and learned more about the effects of stress on the brain! Now, it’s time to work on your own stress management. Stress management will definitely not help you escape your life problems, but it promises one thing: a more manageable life. If you have any questions for us, please let us know in the comment section.


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